The Hirak or popular movement has not been defeated by The Covid pandemic the Algerian government used as a political instrument. Two years after the first demonstration, for the 53rd time, on that 22nd February 2021, the Algerian men and women were several dozens thousands marching the streets with a massive demonstration at Algiers and other marches in more than 30 cities, at Annaba, Tizi Ouzou, Bejaïa, Oran…A few days before, they were thousands demonstrating at Kherrata, the city of the Hirak’s first demonstration in 2019.Two years ago, the population was protesting against the really ageing Bouteflika’s fifth run for president, well known for being the straw man of the generals who took power in the 90’s. The clans sharing the power had to renounce to that candidacy but the former elections have been a mockery as far as participation and candidates were concerned (merely military clans) The people’s mobilisation is asking for democracy but the slogans and the speeches highlight the essential condition of its establishment : the departure of the armed forces who govern.
Their time seems limited. Today, this is the social and economic demands which are pointed out with, in the first place, the distribution of wealth, especially the gains of the oil private income, largely embezzled by the military junta and its satellites.
During this past year, about 600 persons have been arrested, questioned, threatened and imprisoned. Some have also disappeared ; Committees for the political prisoners ’s freedom have counted more than 100 people jailed for these reasons a few days before the mobilisation. We can all but rejoice for the release of about 30 prisoners on the eve of demonstrations, among them journalists and activists known by the Hirak but nobody is fooled by this manipulation from the government who grows worried again confronted with that huge demonstration. It is true that last one is no longer in the position of strength it used to be as they assess a catastrophic management of the pandemic with a health care system gone off the rails for years, unemployment and a general impoverishment of the population… To take the biscuit in petty manipulation, President Tebboune ’s government tried to integrate the Hirak to the regime, declaring the 22nd of February “authentic blessed Hirak day ” or the national day of fraternity and of the cohesion between the army and the people for the democracy.
On the 22nd, the slogans answered in substance : ” We are not here to celebrate the anniversary but for you to leave for ever” On the 22nd, in the streets of Algiers, there were fraternity and cohesion indeed, whose of the demonstrators from the elderly to the youngest, men and women together, and with them, unionists from the general autonomous confederation of the male and female workers in Algeria ( GGATA) , mobilized since the beginning of the Hirak movement. Some of them have been troubled by the police and some have spent several weeks in jail last year, as they paid the price of a struggle for equality and democracy starting far before 2019. On February 22nd, the demonstrations were interspersed by arrests in several cities too. We urgently demand the immediate release of all those who had been victims of arrests.
Today, the Algerian men and women don’t believe in the next anticipated legislative elections after the recent dissolution of the Assembly. No one wants to find himself and herself “choosing ” again between the puppets of the government.
In France, on Sunday 21st, thousands of people, Algerians or Algerian immigrated children marched to show their support to the Hirak in Paris mainly but in other cities too, during the week end also.
The International Labor Network of Solidarity and Struggle (whom CGATA, SNAPAP and SESS are members among others) reasserts its total support to the Hirak in Algeria. We demand the immediate release of all the political prisoners and the cessation of the proceedings against the activists. We express our solidarity and call for an international solidarity, we stand by and support the Algerian diaspora in France and in other countries such as Quebec which also shows, demonstrating in the streets, its rejection of this corrupted regime and its will for a free, democratic, social Algeria.
More than ever, international solidarity with the Hirak.